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Since World War II the various martial arts systems of the Far East--judo, karate, tai chi, and others--have come to enjoy immense popularity in the United States. They have been promoted as sport, as self-defense, and as the means to achieve physical health and peace-of-mind. They have been presented in films as models of aesthetic perfection and as expressions of machismo. Their literature includes the shoddiest of how-to manuals and a few works of rare insight. What has been lacking is a level-headed presentation of the state of the art, particularly as it is practiced in the United States. Kauz, himself a martial arts teacher, has sought to formulate such a statement and done a pretty fair job of it. His book aims to help the neophyte find his way among the many differing approaches to the martial arts with a minimum of confusion and self-deception, and to decide just what sort of involvement, if any, would be appropriate. To this end Kauz describes the purposes of the martial arts, the ways in which they are taught, and the benefits to be derived from their practice. While the treatment is certainly not profound, it is honest and straightforward. Readers who are in no way involved with the martial arts, or who are already adept at them, may find the text a bit tedious and simplistic (the great East-versus-West dichotomy, cropping up again), but this should not obscure the value of this book for the right audience. Exceptionally fine photographs convey the spirit and dynamics of the training, and the production has character and class.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1978
Publisher: Overlook--dist. by Viking